Andrew Zimmern's Favorite Bourdain Memory Is Perfectly On-Brand For Tony

Back when the late Anthony Bourdain and former "Bizarre Foods" host Andrew Zimmern were dominating the Travel Channel with their respective food-centric shows, they often jokingly referred to themselves as rivals. Like so many playful celebrity tête-à-têtes, the two electric TV personalities were bound by a mutual feeling of respect that, bolstered by a little competition, eventually led to a close friendship. In 2020, two years after Bourdain's death, Zimmern confirmed many suspicions when he told us that Tony "was the most dynamic and engaging and fascinating human being." He added, "Everyone loved him, because he was so brilliant, so captivating, so charming when he wanted to be, or cuttingly, cunningly, beautifully evil when he wanted to be."

These days, Zimmern is dedicating a lot of his time to his Substack newsletter, "Andrew Zimmern's Spilled Milk," in which he shares recipes, hot takes, travel tips, and more. In late March, the host shared a memory of his good friend Tony B during the 10th installment of his newsletter's AMA (Ask Me Anything) series, a chatty Friday correspondence in which he answers questions from subscribers.

'He was possibly the most magnetic human being I've ever been around'

After spending a few minutes discussing the origin of spicy food per the request of a subscriber named Ed (for the record, Andrew Zimmern notes that chiles have been used for centuries in Africa, South America, and Asia as a means of both adding flavor and curing meat), the chef and restaurateur switches gears. A subscriber asks him to "share a favorite memory" of Anthony Bourdain, and to touch on how the "No Reservations" host has influenced his life. Based on Zimmern's initial reaction to the question, it's easy to see that he's flipping through a whole Rolodex of memories in his head. "He was possibly the most magnetic human being I've ever been around," he begins. "Funny, smart, an expert in so many things, and insanely curious." 

Eventually, he lands on an anecdote that took place over the phone. "I'm at home on a Saturday or Sunday morning and we're watching some reruns of 'No Reservations'," he recalls, explaining that his young son was enamored with Bourdain. "The phone rings." It's Bourdain, and he's telling Zimmern, jokingly, "how much he hates" him. Apparently, Bourdain was with his daughter, who was insisting on watching a "Bizarre Foods" marathon instead of hanging out with her dad. "We were laughing hysterically because neither of our kids wanted to watch us; they wanted to watch the other one." It was an ordinary moment in their friendship, but a decidedly sweet and memorable one.